Coronavirus turns the Harbour City into a ghost town

A Photo Essay on Nanaimo during the COVID-19 crisis

Caution tape prevents usage of the Princess Anne’s elementary/École Océane playground, per city ruling on March 16th.
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From abandoned parks to boarded-up businesses, Nanaimo looks like a completely different city. In a time of social distancing and self-isolation, an uncanny melancholy presides. Empty grocery store shelves fill social media—but that’s not all that’s empty.

The world outside is eerily going on without us, while we’re quarantined within the comforts of home. The signals of a slower society tempt us: shuttered restaurants, grounded planes, a harbour city without tourists. We are seeing the results of society on mute. 

Football fields are deserted, malls are ghost towns, and church pews are traded for couches and online worship. While the empty public spaces increase every day, we can’t help but be drawn to the otherworldly scenes.

 

 

While north Nanaimo is divided between business-as-usual, with a few extra precautions, or tacked up “closed” notices, the downtown core has taken a much more visible approach.

Without the daily commute from shoppers and employees, many of the owners of independent shops have begun to board up their windows and doors to divert those who might otherwise be tempted to break in.  Security measures aside, BC’s Minister of Health recommended that non-essential stores close their doors to prevent the spread of the outbreak. 

 

 

The intrigue that coaxes viewers to watch post-apocalyptic television shows—the allure of abandoned buildings taken over by wildflowers, and the not too far-off representation of a ruined society—invites curiosity now too. How far will our pandemic go? Is this only the beginning?